life curation · music

Dads Matter

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and I’m fortunate to have experienced the love of two fathers: my biological dad and my stepdad. Instead of saying to you, ‘Go love on your dad”, I want to share what both of the fathers in my life meant to me.

My biological dad and I haven’t always been close, though there’s always been a lot of love between us. He is a better parent of adults than young children, and I can respect and enjoy that: after all, I’ll spend more of my life as an adult than I did as a child! He and my mom had a tense relationship for many years, and now I’m glad to say that they have grown to the point of having a friendship. It took a lot of years, but I love that there is no animosity between them. They married in the 1970s, so I often associate them with Earth, Wind and Fire. Here’s a song that I imagine that they may have danced to while they were dating.

My stepdad passed in 2012, and I’ll cherish the last conversation I had with him. He was very ill – in hospice care – and when I asked how he was feeling, he simply said, “I’m not doing too well, but I’m okay. How are you?” It still breaks my heart to think that he wanted to know how I was doing while he was slowly slipping away from us. I’ll also think fondly of how we would occasionally sneak out and get milkshakes from McDonald’s and chili cheese hot dogs from 7 Eleven (this was before I started eating healthier!) One of the last times we hung out, he said he was craving a milkshake, so we made a special stop just to soothe his craving. I miss him every day, but I’m happy that he left me some awesome memories. Here’s a song that he absolutely loved: I still can’t listen to it all the way through without breaking down into tears.

Those are a couple of my Father’s Day memories. Do you all have any memories of your father/father figures that you want to share? Please post them in comments below: I’d love to read them.

music

Learn More About Opera

I’ve got another FutureLearn course for you all to check out! Several years back, I took a Introduction to Classical Music course on Coursera, and I’ve desired more opportunities to learn about classical music ever since. However, there haven’t been too many courses that fit the bill, until I saw the “Inside Opera” course available on FutureLearn.

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The course will dive into defining opera, discussing the onstage and backstage activities, and how it factors into the world around us.

This opera course starts June 4. I hope that you take some time to check it out!

life curation

A Mother’s Love

Maternal Caress by Mary Cassatt (1896), on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mothers are so special. There’s not a lot to say, other than this: make sure to appreciate your mother (or the mother figures) in your life. Cherish the women that pour into you, and uphold a higher vision of you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise Rouge with her sons Alexis and Adrien by Elizabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (1787), on display at the National Gallery of Art

Here are a few touching portraits of mothers that I have seen over the past week, as well as thoughts on motherhood from a few famous women. I’m going to link my post to Phylicia Rashad’s thoughts on motherhood here. In this post, I’ll share more thoughts from Maya Angelou (you can read my previous post about her here).

culture · international · music

A Little Something for International Dance Day

Happy Sunday friends! It’s been a while since I posted videos about music or dance, so it’s only fitting that I share something with you all for International Dance Day!

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I’m adding some videos demonstrating traditional African dances from several countries. I’ve discussed kizomba before, but Africa is a tremendously diverse continent and every country has something different to offer when it comes to dance. Here’s just a taste of African dance:

Angolan Kizomba and Semba: this mashup of clips gives you a glimpse into traditional Angolan dance. Fun, exuberant and flirty: what’s not to love?

Ethiopian/Eritrean Eskista: I don’t know what I love most about this video – the gorgeous hair, the joyful expressions or the fact that this reminds me of something that my friends and I would do when we get together. They’re not professionals, but they’re having fun!

Burundian/Rwandan Umushagiriro/Umushayayo: this is so graceful and elegant. I want to learn the dance and wear the traditional outfits daily. This dance is breathtakingly beautiful.

And just for fun, Ivorian Zaouli: this dance has been made into countless memes, but the truth is, it takes a LOT of stamina to do this. Enjoy!

What is your favorite international dance? Let me know in the comments below!

life curation · words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Maria Callas

Did you all know that I love opera?

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If I haven’t mentioned it before, let me say it clearly: I LOVE opera music. I’ve played different instruments in the past but I’ve never been a good singer. So, I am always enchanted by a beautiful singing voice (it’s one thing that I do not possess!) One of the most legendary opera singers of all time is the tragic but insanely gifted Maria Callas.

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Maria didn’t care for her voice: it lacked the lightness and smoothness generally expected from sopranos. However, Maria was a mezzo-soprano that had trained her voice to the point of accommodating multiple vocal classifications. What she disliked about her voice was the single quality that makes her sound unique and captivating.

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Sadly, she had many painful experiences in her life. A tense relationship with her mother eventually resulted in them ceasing to speak to one another. Earlier in Maria’s career, she suffered from obesity that impacted her ability to perform; ironically enough, her drastic weight loss has been thought to be one of the main factors in her eventual vocal decline.  A torturous love affair with Aristotle Onassis that resulted in Maria’s ultimate heartbreak, when Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy and relegated Maria to mistress status.

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It’s the pain of Maria’s life that lends the tender, heart-wrenching quality to her singing. And for sure, she did have some joys: she thrilled many audiences with her dramatic soprano range, she traveled the world, and she LIVED a bold, full life. Maria, may you continue to rest in peace.

 

(photos courtesy Pinterest, Quotesurf, and Classic FM)

luxury · reading list

A Bibliophile’s Dream . . .

I don’t often discuss auction houses outside of Christie’s or Sotheby’s auctions. These two entities usually feature more of the items that interest me personally. However, I regularly peruse some of the other big names in the auction world because, well, you never know when you’ll come across a gem of a sale.

I was delighted to see that Bonhams is having an Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts auction in just a few days (March 9). This sale will have all sorts of rare books, manuscripts, and other miscellaneous written material. One item that I found particularly interesting is a letter autographed by Alexander Hamilton. Given the resurgence of interest in Hamilton (we can thank the stageplay Hamilton for that), I expect that this memorabilia will go for much more than the estimated $10-15,000 USD.

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Hamilton’s letter

Two more items of interest to me are a violin owned by, and a letter written and signed by, Albert Einstein. I find Einstein fascinating and I would love to own some memorabilia. These items are expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 each, and I can see them easily going for more than that. I’m sure the lucky winner will treasure these items tremendously.

Einstein’s violin and autographed letter

The auction will happen at Bonhams’ Madison Avenue location in  New York City, USA. If you are a collector of rare books, you won’t want to miss this event!

international · music

Currently Listening To . . .

A few weeks ago, I went to Charlotte, NC to visit one of my friends and to attend a kizomba weekender. You may have seen that in my post and wondered when the follow-up would be posted . . . Well, here you go.

I love kizomba and, while I’m a beginner, I really enjoyed learning the history and technical aspects of the dance. It’s sensual, elegant and so much fun. Not to mention, it made me very aware of some areas where my life could stand some improvement. More about that in another post. . .

So today, this is technically a “currently listening to AND watching” post. I found this kizomba tutorial and I’ve been using it to practice my moves. The position and fluidity of the female dancer’s body is what I’m watching closely: I want to make sure that I’m holding my body correctly while doing moves. I can already tell that I’m improving!

Are you all familiar with kizomba? Let me know in the comments below!